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Easy Snack Plate Dinner Ideas with Barilla Pesto!

I received this product for free from Moms Meet to use and post my honest opinions. Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

“The fastest way to break the cycle of perfectionism and become a fearless mother is to give up the idea of doing it perfectly—indeed to embrace uncertainty and imperfection.” – Arianna Huffington.

We put so much pressure on ourselves as moms, don’t we? And it’s no wonder, since society puts so much pressure on us, right? To work hard – either at a career outside of the home, as a work from home boss babe, or as a perfect stay at home mom. Plus of course: go to the gym and dress stylin’ and do your nails and learn to contour your cheekbones all while picking up groceries and kids and hey o – it’s also a freaking PANDEMIC OUT THERE. Sigh.

Snack Tray Dinner Idea

Anyway. All of that to say – we are always in need of easy peasy dinner ideas around here. I rely heavily on things like prepping ahead, freezer meals, and my Crockpot and Instapot. But something else I rely on at least a couple of nights a week are snack boards. Kind of like… a fancier version of the lunch snack trays you buy at the supermarket, but a less fancy version of a complicated charcuterie board. Depending on the size of your family, your needs, your mood – you can put out one big tray and let everyone make their own plate, or make mini plates for each person. It’s healthy, it’s easy, it’s fun, it’s fast, and it can be YUM, too. Especially with my new obsession – Barilla Creamy Genovese Pasta Sauce. Seriously. OMG. So good.

Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto Easy Recipe Ideas

I’m really questioning myself… as a life-long pasta-a-holic, carb-loving girl, how on earth have I never actually tried pesto? I’ve heard of it. I’ve seen it. But honestly, I guess I just didn’t really know what it was, or how to use it. You GUYS?! It is GENIUS. Lemme tell ya a little bit of basic info first:

  • Pesto is the past tense of the Genoese verb “pestare,” which means “to crush.” Which makes sense – Pesto originated in Genoa, Italy, and was traditionally made by crushing ingredients with a mortar and pestle ;) The usual combo of ingredients includes basil, garlic, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, pine nuts – but a lot of pesto swaps out the pine nuts. {I’m a nerd, and a writer, and I love cool facts like this!}
  • When you crush these up and mix together, you get a beautiful, creamy, green sauce. Imagine the pretty combos for holiday dishes, mixed and matched with crisp red veggies?
  • It’s most commonly used on pasta noodles, and often on sandwiches. But it is SO versatile! You can use this as a sauce for so many things, a dip, seafood, burgers, drizzle it onto pizza, use it to marinate meats, on and on.
  • CLICK HERE –> Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto Recipe Ideas if you’re just too tired to get creative and need even more inspiration. There’s nothing wrong with that, momma. I’ll share more ideas later too, keep reading. You aren’t alone here. I got you. :)

And now, with Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto Sauce, you get to skip all of the work of a mortar and pestle, but still have the freshest pesto available, imported from Italy, but available right in your own cupboard, any time you want. You can pick these up at most grocery stores, or even add them to your next Amazon order.

Pesto Snack Plate Dinner Plate Idea

We used this Creamy Genovese Pesto over the past week for our dinner plates. I mentioned over on Instagram the other day – I started a round of high-dose prednisone for my spine/disc issues, and it’s a rough one. {If you’ve ever taken prednisone, you know. It is THE strongest love/hate relationship story of all time, lol.} Plus, Daylight Savings time and now it gets dark in the middle of the dark day. The holidays are approaching rapidly, with all the weirdness and unpredictability that those bring this year. So: I’m a tired momma, my friends. A quick and easy meal that I can put together without using the stove? That’s a winner. 

Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto Dip

We’ve used this creamy pesto as a dip, with cheese and crackers. When added to pinwheel roll-ups it legit takes things up a notch! You can get creative and use this in SO many of your regular recipes, and it gives them a fresh twist, feels like something new. And if all you can manage is boiling a pot of noodles – just stir in a jar of Barilla Pesto sauce, for a quick alternative to spaghetti night that the kids will still totally love. Trust me. 

Barilla Creamy Genovese Pesto

This works for lunches – add to sandwiches, as a dip for veggies or crackers, etc. It’s amazing in all of your favorite dinner dishes, or use the Barilla US site to find some new faves to put into rotation. It can add some flair to holiday meals this season. It’s a great addition to gift baskets – one compact jar is enough for a whole 16-oz box of pasta! Make party trays for your next get together, using the same idea we use for our dinner trays, just on a larger, fancier scale. The options are endless!

There are just so many ways to use this – I honestly feel kinda silly for not ever trying pesto before? You can see the dozens of other creative ways that other busy moms from #MomsMeet used this #BarillaPesto #CreamyGenovese over on Instagram by following the hashtags, or checking out the accounts – @BarillaUS and @MomsMeet. If you use #BarillaUS in your home too, be sure to share a pic and tag them too!

Be sure to come join the conversation over on my Instagram page!! Let me know in the comments here, or over there – do you use pesto? What are your favorite ways to use it? Have you tried Barilla Pesto? If not – definitely look for it the next time you’re grocery shopping in the pasta aisle, you won’t be sorry. And – are you a snack plate/dinner plate type of mom too? Chat with me, my friends. :)


How a Biscotti Break Makes Mom Life a Little Easier

Today’s lives move so fast. We often forget to take a break, a moment to just slow things down and breathe… A photo captures a moment forever.Do you take a “moment” just for yourself each day? I mean sure, it’d be nice if I was able to get out for a girl’s night out more often. Or maybe an afternoon of shopping, or a mani-pedi. Heck – some days it would be nice if I could just go to the bathroom by myself…. But, no matter how hectic the busy mom life gets, it’s important to find a way to carve out at least a little bit of time that’s just for you.

a mom moment

Yes, I know that taking a biscotti break isn’t the same as a day at the spa.

But it is a great little addition to my day – and honestly, it’s those little moments in each day that help keep stress at bay anyway, right? Nonni’s Biscotti is so perfect – high quality all-natural ingredients. The perfect combination of textures and flavors too – really lightly crunchy {not like the rock-hard store-bought biscotti’s that I’ve tried before}, with a great blend of sweetness. Seriously, these surprised me – The only biscotti that I’ve ever liked was the homemade version that my friend’s Italian mom and grandma used to make when I’d come to visit – but these Caramel Milk Chocolate bites are crazy good. I believe it when they call them an “Authentic Italian Family Recipe”, I’ve just never had such a good version that you could purchase off the shelf. They’re my new go-to morning snack… I slip out to the back patio with my newspaper, a bowl of biscotti, and a tall glass of iced coffee to dip them into – and for a half hour, it’s all me time, baby.

best biscotti

Share YOUR Biscotti Moment…

Nonni’s Biscotti wants to know how you enjoy a moment to yourself. If you have a great biscotti moment to share too, enter to win a trip for two to Hollywood for some REALLY great moments to enjoy, or a weekly product prize package. You can enter daily on the Nonni’s Biscotti Facebook page!

{Disclosure: I wrote this review while participating in a campaign by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of Nonni’s Biscotti and received a product sample to facilitate my review and a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.}


Real Food for Real Kids: Smart Snacking Guide

As I was saying yesterday in my post about my new favorite on-the-go snack bars, eating healthy does NOT have to mean sacrificing taste. When you’re at a grocery store, there are so darn many products marketed as “kids snacks” – covered in cartoon images, and packed full of sugar, coloring agents, and yucky additives that your kids sure don’t need. But there’s an easy solution – if you take just a little time each weekend to plan and prepare snacks for the week ahead, you can feed your kids REAL foods that they’ll love to eat, and you’ll love serving.

smart snacking for kids

Exploring new tastes

I printed this out to go into my Meal Planning binder, so I can put together great snacks for Abby and the boys each week. I seriously love these ideas – there are a ton of traditional snacks that are fun for kids, like ants on a log, creative healthy alternatives to things like sugary fruit roll-ups, and new tastes that kids will love trying out like hummus and baby carrots. You would be surprised by how many great “real” foods kids will love – they don’t have to survive on just chicken nuggets and candy-like fruit snacks. They’ll love experiencing new tastes like edamame, or popcorn with lime juice, cumin, and garlic powder! The earlier you start giving them cool new things to try, the more adventurous eaters they’ll become as they get bigger! {Abby loves salmon, sugar snap peas and ranch, and eggplant!}

California Raisin cartoon

California Raisins’ Let’s Keep It Real Healthy Snack Challenge

California Raisins are an all-natural, no-added-sugar snack you can feel good about giving your family, and are a perfect fit for daily snacking. To help more moms discover what a great choice they are for kids snacks {and for you, too!} they’re running a super fun promotion: California Raisins is asking you & your family to pledge to enjoy all-natural, no-added-sugar snacks – like California Raisins – for one week.

Sign up for the Let’s Keep It Real Healthy Snack Challenge on Facebook and you’ll be automatically entered to win one of five prize packs that include $1,000 in cash and other goodies to get your healthy snacking on. How awesome is THAT?

How do you incorporate real foods into your snacks while still trying to save time and keep it simple?

I admit it, there are many times that I buy those big boxes of pre-packaged bags of chips for the kids, or other unhealthy junk. But I’m getting better all the time at stocking up on healthy stuff. Here are a few of my best tips on building better snacks:

  1. Snack Ideas: Print out this great snack planning chart on the page, and get a fun book like Healthy Lunch Boxes and Snacks to inspire some really great daily snack ideas. You’ll also find loads of ideas on my Fun Kids Snacks board on Pinterest.
  2. Perfect Portions: My absolute favorite containers are the EasyLunchboxes Bento Box Set! They’re BPA free, really sturdy, and make it so easy to build great snacks for the week. Instead of buying Lunchables that are packed full of sodium and fat – make your own little snack packs with California Raisins, cheese cut into fun shapes or cubes, and celery with peanut butter!
  3. Choose Real: If the only options in the house are good, healthy, real foods – that’s what the kids’ll eat! Make a snack box in the fridge, and another box in a cupboard – buy a few Itzy Ritzy Baby Reusable Snack Bag, or some of the fun new Ziploc bags with cartoon characters, and fill ’em with healthy snacks. Then the kids can just grab a great snack each day when they need one – and you know that they’re getting the good vitamins and stuff that they need.

So – If you’re ready to take the California Raisins’ Let’s Keep It Real Healthy Snack Challenge on Facebook too – join today! And I’d love to hear your best snack tips too – share ’em in the comments!

 {Disclosure: I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network and am eligible for a prize drawing. All opinions stated in the post are my own.}


Why this is the perfect snack

Convenient doesn’t have to mean unhealthy. And healthy doesn’t have to mean sacrificing taste. So – If you’re looking for a super simple snack, that’s healthy enough that you feel like a great mom when you feed it to the kids, while being tasty enough that YOU enjoy eating it too – You’re totally in luck. I have another great Busy Mom Solution product for you – PROBAR Fruitrition snack bars. Sooooo good.

PROBAR Fruitrition

“The greatest wealth is health.” – Virgil

I used to rely on granola bars for the kids snacks – But then I realized that honestly, they’re just not much better than a candy bar. They’re so packed full of sugar and corn syrup and chocolate chips – They are not a real great choice. But they’re yummy, and they’re simple to grab and go. Then I went looking for some good Gluten Free snacks to have in the house, since during the summer we have a TON of kids here all the time using the pool – and I wanted to make sure we have snacks to fit all of their different dietary needs, you know? When I tried these great Fruitrition bars, I knew we’d found a winner! Seriously – this chocolate orange flavor tastes like a gourmet chocolate from my favorite candy shop. Uh-MAY-zing. Best part? They have a full serving of fruit in each bar, and are only 160 calories – meaning they can fit into my Nutrisystem diet too!

Gluten Free Snack Bars

“If I’d known I was going to live so long, I’d have taken better care of myself.” – Leon Eldred

If you want to upgrade your snack foods too – You totally have to check out these bars. You should be able to find them at some of your favorite local stores – but if not, you can order online too, AND I’ve got a sweet savings discount code you can use too:

Visit,  and enter code “BLOGGER” at checkout to save 40% off your order! Awesome, right?

My favorite is by FAR the Chocolate Orange – but there’s also a ton of other goodies to choose from – strawberry bar, but you can’t go wrong with peach, cherry, lemon, blueberry, strawberry and cran-raspberry. So whether you’re buying these as a healthier alternative for the kiddos, or for a way better snack choice for yourself, you’ll find a perfect flavor. And hey – It’s not just me saying that they rock, they just won an award from Prevention Magazine too – check it out, and have another reason why these are a total must-have in any snack cupboard this spring!

Wanna try ’em for FREE?

Of course you do! So use the easy peasy Rafflecopter form below to enter to WIN a case filled with ALL of the new PROBAR Fruitrition bars – this is an almost $40 value, which is a LOT of snacks. So cool. Then when you’re done, check out the list of other sweet prizes that I’m giving away this month too, over in the sidebar. The more you enter, the more chances you have to win!

Have Fun & Good Luck!

[Read more…]


Busy Mom Solution: Silk Soy and Horizon!

Silk Soy Peppermint Mocha

“To eat is a necessity, but to eat intelligently is an art.” – La Rochefoucauld

The Challenge – The kids only want to drink soda, eat cookies and chips, and avoid their veggie’s like their life depends on it. You want to encourage them to prefer better snacks, and you want to make sure they’re getting loads of good vitamins, minerals, and healthy stuff in their little systems. You try to set a good example – but as a busy mom, you sometimes skip meals too. Or you grab a soda as a quick pick me up. Clearly – you need a new, easy to find, simple to grab, snack option. Well – you’re in luck! Keep reading to learn more about this Busy Mom Solution….

Silk Soy and Horizon Organic

“Those who think they have no time for healthy eating will sooner or later have to find time for illness.” – Edward Stanley

Horizon Organic and Silk Soy both make super portable, super healthy, and super YUMMY single-serve drinks – and they are the perfect snack solution! Here are a few things that I love:

  • No artificial junk.
  • 8 whole grams of protein in each serving – total wow!
  • Lots of great Calcium and Vitamin D in each box.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” – Jim Rohn

After I learned more about these single-serve shelf-stable boxes – I realized what a great addition they would be to our current snacks and drinks. I assumed they’d be in the dairy section, which is where I usually buy our other Horizon and Silk Soy products – so that was the first place that I headed.

“High-tech tomatoes. Mysterious milk. Supersquash. Are we supposed to eat this stuff? Or is it going to eat us?” – Annita Manning

Nope – these super convenient little boxes are not in the cooler section with the other dairy products – in both Walmart and Safeway {I checked both} they were located next to the other shelved beverages. I found them near the juice boxes and chocolate milk packs – they were BY FAR the healthiest option in the whole aisle! The fact that they’re shelf-stable means that they’re easier to stock up on, since you don’t have to find room in the fridge. And they’re perfect for lunch boxes, in the car, or on the go!

“Life is not merely being alive, but being well.” – Marcus Valerius Martialis

These easy to grab boxes are perfect for snacks – since they’re so packed full of good stuff, you feel great about serving them. And because they come in fun flavors like chocolate and strawberry, the kids feel great drinking them!

Learn More –

Now that you know how amazing these products are – {organically good for you and filled with vitamins and good stuff, convenient, and super yummy!} – I’m sure you want to learn more, right?

Check out my full shopping experience, and learn more about these great products – including more serving ideas, a fun giveaway, and a great opportunity to give back – in my Google+ Albums –  Safeway and Walmart.

Connect with them on social media – Silk Soy Facebook, Horizon Facebook, and on Twitter, @WhiteWaveFoods.

{Disclosure: This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper insights study for Collective Bias. All thoughts, photos, and overuse of exclamation points is totally my own!}


FREE Nature’s Path Granola Bar – Plus Enter to WIN!

Free Natures Path Granola BarFree Natures Path Granola Bar

Nature’s Path and Ellen DeGeneres are giving fans a chance to win a Nature’s Path prize pack and a $500 Whole Foods gift card! Sweet prize, right?? They’ll also send you free box of samples. For a chance to win, all you have to do is take their poll. Choose from: Chococonut, Pumpkin-N-Spice, Lotta Apricotta or Berrry Strawberry! Whichever bar you pick – that’s the free sample you’ll be getting! {You know I picked Pumpkin-N-Spice, right??} Hurry – these will run out soon! So be sure to share this post with a friend – the buttons make it easy peasy to share to Facebook and Twitter! – so they don’t miss out!

This is from the amazing daily samples on MySavings: Get your FREE Nature’s Path Granola Bar Sample Pack – and enter to WIN!